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Dr Mark Nelson

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On The Job Foot Health: Be safe, be careful, be comfortable.

On-the-Job Foot Health

Information From The American Podiatric Medical Association


Protect Your Feet

Your ability to use your feet safely, with ease and comfort, is vital if you are to remain a valuable and productive worker.

When your job requires you to stand on your feet for long periods, work in potentially hazardous areas or with potentially hazardous materials, you have some risk of foot injury. However, you can do a lot to prevent injuries by keeping your feet healthy and following safe work practices.

In any given year, there are about 120,000 job-related foot injuries, one-third of them toe injuries, according to the National Safety Council. You can't take your feet for granted! And your concern for them cannot be divided; it should continue off the job, as well as at work.


There are a few simple things you should do:

bulletBathe your feet daily; dry them thoroughly.
bulletCheck your feet frequently for corns, calluses, cracks.
bulletKeep your feet warm.
bulletTrim your toenails straight across, slightly longer than the end of the toe.
bulletPrevent foot problems by visiting your podiatrist as part of your annual health check-up.
bulletWear protective footwear when using lawnmowers, chain-saws, and moving heavy objects.


bulletIt is important for you to develop safe work habits and attitudes. Some things to remember:
bulletBe aware of the hazards of your job and the proper protective measures to take.
bulletDon't take chances or unnecessary risks. Take time to do your job right.
bulletBe alert. Watch for hidden hazards.
bulletBe considerate. Watch out for other workers' safety.
bulletFollow the rules. Don't cut corners. Use your equipment as specified.
bulletConcentrate on the job. Inattention can lead to accidents.
bulletPace yourself. Work steadily at a comfortable speed.
bulletKeep your work area clean and your tools in their place.

Protective Footwear Is Essential

Safety shoes and boots protect your feet, help prevent injuries to them, and reduce the severity of injuries that do occur in the workplace.

Only one out of four victims of job-related foot injury wear any type of safety shoe or boot, according to the National Safety Council. The remaining three either are unaware of the benefits of protective footwear or complain about it.

Safety footwear is comfortable, flexible, stylish, and still provides protection from injury.

The foot is the most valuable part of your body subjected to injury in industry. Because of the many potential work hazards, it is important that you discuss with your supervisor the safety shoe, boot, or other protective equipment that you need for your protection.

HAZARD: falling and rolling objects, cuts and punctures
PROTECTION: steel-toe safety shoes; add-on devices: metatarsal guards, metal foot guards, puncture-proof inserts,shin guards

HAZARD: chemicals, solvents
PROTECTION: footwear with synthetic stitching, and made of rubber, vinyl or plastic

HAZARD: electric current
PROTECTION: shoes or boots with rubber soles, and heels, no metal parts and insulated steel toes

HAZARD: extreme cold
PROTECTION: shoes or boots with moisture- or oil-resistant insulation, and that can repel water (if this is a problem); insulated socks

HAZARD: extreme heat and direct flame
PROTECTION: overshoes or boots of fire-resistant materials with wooden soles

HAZARD: high voltage
PROTECTION: shoes with rubber or cork heels and soles, and no exposed metal parts

HAZARD: hot surfaces
PROTECTION: safety shoes with wooden or other heat-resistant soles; wooden sandals overshoes

HAZARD: sanitation contamination
PROTECTION: special plastic booties or overshoes; paper or wood shower sandals

HAZARD: slips and skids (from wet, oily shoes with wooden soles or cleated, surfaces)
PROTECTION: non-slip rubber or neoprene soles; non-skid sandals that slip over shoes; strap-on cleats for icy surfaces

HAZARD: sparking (from metal shoe parts)
PROTECTION: safety shoes with no metal parts and non-sparking material

HAZARD: sparks, molten metal splashes
PROTECTION: foundry boots with elastic sides or (that get inside shoes) quick-release buckles for speedy removal

HAZARD: static electricity
PROTECTION: shoes or boots with heels and soles of cork or leather

HAZARD: wetness
PROTECTION: lined rubber shoes or boots; rubbers or shoes of silicone-treated leather

If Your Feet are Injured at Work

Report any injury to your foreman or supervisor promptly for necessary first aid. Then see your podiatrist if further treatment is recommended. Proper foot care improves your efficiency and keeps you on the job.

Your podiatrist is a specialist who diagnoses and treats foot disorders and injuries medically and surgically. By visiting your podiatrist regularly, you can insure for yourself a lifetime of pain-free feet.

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Injury Treatment Tips From The APMA

RICE is the first step

Rest. Cut back on your activity, and get off your feet.
Ice. Gently place a plastic bag of ice, or ice wrapped in a towel, on the injured area in a 20-minute-on, 40-minute-off cycle.
Compression. Lightly wrap an Ace bandage around the area, taking care not to pull it too tight.
Elevation. Sit in a position that you can elevate the foot higher than the waist, to reduce swelling and pain.
Switch to a soft shoe or slipper, preferably one that your podiatrist can cut up in the office if it needs to be altered to accommodate a bulky dressing.
For bleeding cuts, cleanse well, apply pressure with gauze or a towel, and cover with a clean dressing. It's best not to use any medication on the cut before you see the doctor.
Leave blisters unopened if they are not painful or swollen.
Foreign materials in the skin, such as slivers, splinters, and sand, can be removed carefully with a sterile instrument. A deep foreign object, such as broken glass or a needle, must be removed professionally.
Treatment for an abrasion is similar to that of a burn, since raw skin is exposed to the air and can easily become infected. Cleansing is important to remove all foreign particles. Sterile bandages should be applied, along with an antibiotic cream or ointment.
Your podiatric physician/surgeon has been trained specifically and extensively in the diagnosis and treatment of all manners of foot conditions. This training encompasses all of the intricately related systems and structures of the foot and lower leg including neurological, circulatory, skin, and the musculoskeletal system, which includes bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves.

Reprinted with permission from the American Podiatric Medical Association


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Last modified: 10/13/10